Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Cambridge Arson - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Man Sentenced to 40 Years in Prison for Cambridge Arson

Posted: Updated:
Pernell Clanton, 26 Pernell Clanton, 26
(Photo:WBOC) (Photo:WBOC)

CAMBRIDGE, Md.- Almost four years ago on Race Street in Cambridge, an apartment building went up in flames.  People were jumping from second floor windows onto mattresses below to escape from the fire.  Earlier this year, a man was at long last arrested and charged with setting that fire.  That man has been sentenced, and will be spending the next several decades behind bars.

Pernell Clanton is 26 now, but at the age of 22 he set a fire that drove 22 people from their home on the 500 block of Race Street just over a week before Christmas in 2012.  It's an image burned into the memories of the firefighters who were out there that night.

"They were jumping and the people underneath were trying to catch or help.  One lady I think broke both her legs when she jumped out.  But we were really blessed that nobody was killed in that fire," said Ricky Travers, one of the firefighters on the scene that night.

The Dorchester State's Attorney's Office says Clanton had a previous dispute with someone he believed was in the building, and tried to scare the person by setting the fire.  Clanton's intended target was not in the building.  But Tevin Ennels was.  He was one of the people who had to jump from that second floor.

"I opened the door up and saw all this smoke.  After I saw all the smoke, I closed the door.  We threw my mattress out the window, and after that we started jumping out the window," said Ennels.

People in Cambridge thought after close to four years, the man who set the fire would never be caught.

"My man, he did a good job of hiding and running, I'll say that.  I didn't think they would catch him, but like they say, justice is what it is," said Kevin Stallings.

State's Attorney Bill Jones says the case had run cold, but a new tip surfaced that led to the arrest and conviction.

"Investigators from the fire marshal's office had the opportunity to follow up on that lead, which lead to this defendant, who fortunately for us also then cooperated with the investigation and gave us the evidence we needed to get the conviction we got this week," said Jones.

Clanton will be going to prison for 40 years, but local say no amount of time will erase the memory of that night.

Clanton pleaded guilty to one count of first-degree arson and nine counts of first=degree assault.  He was sentenced to 255 years in prison, with 215 suspended, leaving 40 active years of prison time.  He will be eligible for parole after 20 years, and when released will be on supervised probation for five years, and will have no contact with the victims, and will will receive mental health and abuse treatments.

  • Most Popular VideosMost Popular VideosMore>>

  • Cambridge Remembers 1967 Race Riot

    Cambridge Remembers 1967 Race Riot

     It's hard to believe Pine Street in Cambridge was once piled with burnt rock and debris.

    The Cambridge Race Riots of 1967 left 17 buildings destroyed and a community - scarred. Herschel Johnson was in his late twenties at the time and lived down the street.

    More

     It's hard to believe Pine Street in Cambridge was once piled with burnt rock and debris.

    The Cambridge Race Riots of 1967 left 17 buildings destroyed and a community - scarred. Herschel Johnson was in his late twenties at the time and lived down the street.

    More
  • Virginia Town Loses Fire Department

    Virginia Town Loses Fire Department

    The Accomack Board of Supervisors have voted, and with a 9-0 vote, decided to officially end the funding of the Onley Fire Department, meaning their doors are now closed to the public.

    More

    The Accomack Board of Supervisors have voted, and with a 9-0 vote, decided to officially end the funding of the Onley Fire Department, meaning their doors are now closed to the public.

    More
  • Crowds Line Up For Seafood At Tawes Clam Bake

    Crowds Line Up For Seafood At Tawes Clam Bake

    Lines started forming early Wednesday afternoon at the 41st Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield.  WBOC's Nicole Lauren spoke to some seafood lovers taking in the sun and good food.

    More

    Lines started forming early Wednesday afternoon at the 41st Annual J. Millard Tawes Crab and Clam Bake in Crisfield.  WBOC's Nicole Lauren spoke to some seafood lovers taking in the sun and good food.

    More
Powered by Frankly

All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WBOC. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices